Seems like there's something vegan-friendly in the news this week from Oprah to more offensive PeTA advertisements for the Super Bowl. Something I've been thinking more about, though, is how the only vegan news items or stories that ever get any traction are ones that talk about veganism as a method to lose weight, get healthy, or introduce a new way to police the size of bodies. Observe:
PeTA Advertisement with a back view of a person in a red and white polka dot bikini looking out on a beach scene. Copy reads: Save the WHALES Lose the Blubber: Go Vegetarian
For the record, I can't stand PeTA. This and other ads are precisely part of the problem. They beg for money, get the animal agriculture industry to modify one practice that was already cost ineffective, then claim victory for animals. All while euthanizing 85% of the healthy animals they shelterrather than finding them homes and spending gobs of money on sexist advertising that gets rejected from cable networks anyway, and most importantly, don't work. But that's all for another rant.
As a vegan, I'm interested in resisting oppression, violence, and exploitation of ALL animals on this planet, and when we use veganism as a "fat-buster" we insert the dietary choices of vegans as part of this larger, diet-centric culture that emphasizes restriction of foods, guilt, and personal failure as the causes for larger bodies or health issues. It obscures corporate and state control over food distribution, content, and advertising and perpetuates the notion that when something goes wrong (and fat bodies are ALWAYS coded as wrong), it's your fault and you're a bad person. Women's bodies are particularly policed when it comes to size and body fat and, as the typical cooks in most households, are singled out for ridicule when it comes to making food choices for their families and homes.
In resisting oppression, vegans should want no part in dictating the "right" kind of bodies that women should have, or in guilting low and middle income families for making food choices that prioritize affordability. Our aim is to advocate respect for all sentient beings, and if we're treating animals well, we should treat humans well by not vilifying the diversity of body shapes and sizes. Work can also be done to show how vegan diets and other lifestyle items are affordable, and often cheaper, than omnivorous alternatives, and to advocate for greater access to more fruits and veggies in food deserts and environments distorted by agricultural subsidies.
As for vegans, wake up: you can still live pretty healthfully on an omnivorous diet. Vegan diets are not the only healthy diets. Folks who go vegan to lose weight do not typically stay vegan, or live vegan-ly beyond the dinner table. We're not doing anyone favors by advocating veganism as cleanse/metabolism jumpstart/super diet, which is really just fat-negativity thinly veiled in shallow concerns for others' health that isn't even effective at convincing someone to go vegan in the first place.
If you're going to promote veganism, it's not wrong to talk about feeling better eating more veggies, or being more environmentally conscious (but even that has it's problems). Remember, veganism is about more than just what you put in your mouth: it's also about what you wear, what you use, and how you entertain yourself. To cast veganism as only a "healthy choice" ignores what it means to be fully vegan, emphasizes veganism as just another restrictive diet that is easily abandoned, and allows a cascade into fat-negative talk that is offensive and hurtful. At the end of the day, we're perpetuating violence and getting no closer to providing a sensical argument as to why someone should go vegan.
Overall, the only consistent reason to choose veganism in all of your life choices is to come at it from an ethical or moral place. It's also the one least fraught with triggering intersecting oppressions that "healthy" veganism or "eco-conscious" veganism are suspect to.
So there's really no reason why I shouldn't be updating this blog like it was my job, seeing as how I've enjoyed 4 days off work because of SNOWPOCALYPSE/BLIZZARD/THUNDERSLEET of 2k11. My town is completely incapable of handling more than 2 inches of snow (and even that's getting a little dangerous). I've left the bf's house twice in the last 5 days but it's been fantastic, cuddling with puppies and making delicious food. We've been playing Rock Band and Limbo (amazing game), I've been procrastinating on my reading, and we've all been getting group-sexy in the kitchen.
There's nothing quite like getting vegansexual in someone else's kitchen. You're navigating new spaces and have to get creative with the toys and tools at hand. Roommate of bf has this amazingly huge skillet pan so I was in stir-fry heaven (next week, Braised Endive!).
Everyone could use a little kitchen experimentation in their lives, you should try it! Ideally, find someone else with more fun appliances you don't get to use often. One of the finer culinary friends-with-benefits situations.
I made a few crowd pleasers this week for the whole house so I could choose movies off Netflix. It doesn't really matter because Netflix won't allow you to choose subtitles and you'll have to watch Oldboy dubbed over in an extremely obnoxious English voice that just drones and whines. We lasted about 3 minutes before we gave up. Here's a mix of stuff I made this week and last.
Brussels Sprouts and Onion Stir-fry with Sriracha and Soy Sauce
Japanese Golden Curry with Tempeh and Mixed Veggies
Vegan Spicy Nachos
Peanut Butter and Banana Cookies
Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Buttercream
Here's the prep work on the Japanese Golden Curry:
And those beautiful, decadent cupcakes:
I would swim in a pool of that buttercream and be totally okay with it.
What have you been cooking during the snowstorm/this week?
Y'ALL. It's only a few more days before the semester begins and I'll probably be blogging more, as I get inspired to write for pleasure when I'm procrastinating on my schoolwork. Prepare yourself for Spinach-Potato Croquettes, Japanese Golden Curry with Tempeh and Red Peppers, and Snickerdoodles. The Roomie and I are planning on a giant (platonic) vegansexual cook-a-thon on Monday and you won't be able to HANDLE the cupcakes I'm making.
Until that day, I thought I'd post some of my favorite vegan blogs around the interwebs so you can take a peek at where I've found amazing recipes, theoretical frameworks, and living tips for vegans. Some of these blogs don't necessarily agree with each other when it comes to how they approach veganism, so peruse at your will. You'll probably find something you can get behind if interested.
I've really been digging Chaia Heller for a while now; eco-feminism without all the essentialism/racism common in other related work. She promotes an erotic relationship with nature, one based on mutuality and love. She critiques our typical romanticization of the environment/rural life/animals, which alienates human and non-human animal subjectivities from discourse and behavior surrounding the planet's well-being. She sees the erotic orientation to life as the one that radically transforms relationships one has with one's environment and its inhabitants.
I see this as the perfect platform to bring together my vegan and queer identity. Our typical food narrative demands we use animals in every aspect of the meal. They are categorized as lesser beings, incapable of thought or creativity or suffering so can therefore be slaughtered for the convenience and pleasure of the dinner table. Now I am all about pleasure (see: blog title) but one cannot experience mutual desire and pleasure at the expense of other sentient beings. To do so creates a fissure in the kitchen between the lived experiences of non-human animals and the carcasses we consume; we've renamed and reconstructed the identity of these creatures and turned them into "chicken nuggets" and "pork" or "beef tips" instead of recognizing their former, complex lives (thank you, Carol Adams).
Becoming vegan means opting out of this violence. It means not using anthropocentric standards to judge worthiness of life. It means knowing that for the dairy cow and the layer hen, even if allowed access to pasture and not tortured, end up in the same slaughterhouses as their fellow animals do for flesh when they've outlived their reproductive ("useful") lives. Being vegan queers the notion of the dinner plate, of the healthy life, of the identity of "human". It's a refusal to romanticize the "caveman" diet or the animal products from "the farm", which not only harms the non-human animals in those concepts but also the human animals subject to the pain of racism and ruralism. It means rejecting the heterocentric meat-and-potatoes narrative of the acceptable meal and reminds us that we can live well without living recklessly toward other creatures.
We can queer our diets and queer our cooking spaces. Queering the kitchen is a radical act: when we cook for others without trying to impress, when we co-create love and side dishes to rockin' tunes, when we make do with whatever we have in the pantry and indulge in a self-pleasure, single-person show, we queer the notion of what the kitchen feels like. The kitchen is the room in the house where fruits of the earth are transformed into cultural goods; this act of transition provides the space to fuck with food, fuck with the housewife as the queen of the dinner table, fuck with our silly ideas that we aren't good cooks and have to rely on corporate grown/marketed food just to survive. We can become gastrosexuals, seeking mutual pleasure in nourishing our bodies and satisfying those persistent cravings. Choosing to eat vegan at these moments provides another method for uprooting any non-erotic tendencies we've accumulated over the years.
Desire cannot be captured in a measuring cup but runs through the sifter and the strainer, un-containable and powerfully real. We desire tastes and scents and experiences but true desire requires consideration of the Other; non-human animals are not our beloved, they are their own creatures of self-driven existence.
Don't abandon me just yet! I've had a kookoo bananas holiday break but that does not mean I haven't been getting vegansexual in the kitchen. If you like what you've seen so far, you won't regret sticking around. I received a tofu press, TWO food processors (one miniature for small projects), and an immersion blender for Christmas, a good haul indeed. I have been cooking with the new roomie and we've got lots of fabulous food porn to feast your eyes on. Here's what's coming in the next week:
Queering the Kitchen (or, How I Theorize About Everything I Do)
Baked Pumpkin Ziti with Sage Breadcrumbs (Veganomicon is my bible)
Seitan Buffalo Wingz (Party Vegan)
Potato Croquettes (Vegan Good Things)
So stay tuned! Recipes and food erotica forthcoming.
When I became vegan I just accepted that I would have to let my attachment to cheese go. I had tried soy cheeses and they were fine, but nothing quite like the original. After releasing my addiction I stumbled upon a new, supposedly life-changing brand called Daiya. SO TRUE.
I bought a bag of "cheddar shreds" and recreated a sandwich from my favorite veggie place in town, The Earth Cafe and Deli. Their Groovy Grilled Cheese has been my favorite for a long time (minus icky pickles, of course)
Above is a gem of a meal I made one night for myself and a lover. Grilled daiya + tempeh bacon with stone ground mustard, french fries from a local restaurant (leftover), and Ginger Kale.
I think I make Ginger Kale something like once a week. It's crisp/salty/ginger-y green fabulousness is good and good for you. It also takes maybe 5 minutes to make. The perfect quickie.
Ginger Kale (enough for 2)
One bunch kale, de-stemmed and ripped into bite size pieces
2 tbsp canola oil
Thumb size piece of ginger, peeled and diced
Soy sauce or tamari
Saute oil and ginger in pan until ginger is fragrant (about 2 mins). Add kale pieces and drizzle with soy sauce. Stir constantly until kale is cooked down slightly but still bright green. Take it off the heat just before you think it's ready, it becomes small and mushy quite fast!